HoloBlog

Holonomix view of the world of IT operations management, process automation and life in general
darren-100

Darren Prince, Holonomix Managing Director

"At Holonomix we're very familiar with the majority of established products in the Network and Systems Performance reporting space. Afterall most large IT organisations have had products such as CA's Concord eHealth, InfoVista and Alcatel-Lucent's VitalSuite deployed since the late 1990's. But while we're often required to deploy, customise and integrate these products, until recently we've been somewhat reluctant to incorporate a performance reporting product into our vendor product portfolio".

"The reasons for this I guess have primarily been historic given that:

  1. With so many long-established vendors, performance reporting as an offering is considered quite 'me too' and frankly we'd rather focus on more innovative and exciting development areas such as IT Process Automation (ITPA) which can deliver very real and compelling customer benefits. Performance Reporting as a sector (for whatever reason) also seems to have been characterised by a distinct lack of technical innovation in recent years.
  2. Many of our customers have made quite significant investments with the traditional reporting players (thereby seemingly limiting Holonomix product resale opportunities)
  3. The inherent complexity of these solutions (particularly in areas such as report customisation) has meant that over the course of many years, our customers have often developed quite significant expertise with such products (again perhaps limiting the scope for delivery of Holonomix professional services)
  4. The 'obvious' vendor for us to work with in this space, given our own history and skill set is, of course, EMC. Unfortunately EMC has only a relatively immature solution currently (IT Performance Reporter) that while cost-effective, in our view doesn’t really compete with the key players in terms of breadth of functionality and high scalability.


In recent months however we've been looking at the reporting space with renewed interest given the emergence of some pretty exciting new vendors. So why is the space so exciting all of a sudden?

 

 To answer this you really have to consider the situation that many of our customers find themselves in when dealing with incumbent reporting suppliers, namely:

 
  1. The ongoing cost of maintaining traditional performance tools is extremely high - as previously highlighted the costs associated with developing custom reports in solutions such as InfoVista are very significant, while in Lucent VitalSuite it's a near impossible task for non-development staff. Furthermore there are very significant CAPEX and OPEX costs associated with purchasing and supporting the underlying operating system, databases and hardware than underpin your reporting application.
  2. The element/device based licensing models and the inherent lack of scalability of the traditional reporting solution may not always be wholly aligned with the scale/growth plans for the customer's environment - in other words you usually end up paying much more than you really need to support your environment
  3. Many reporting solutions are too complex and long-winded to use. Consider a typical use case. You receive an alarm that tells you that a bandwidth utilisation threshold has been exceeded on one of your critical WAN links, so you generate a quick 'on the fly' report to provide you with more detail of resource utilisation. The next obvious question to ask is "So who is sucking up all my available bandwidth on this link?" so you then attempt to drill down using the NetFlow or perhaps RMON module of the reporting solution to give you detailed information about the top talkers. Given the age of many traditional reporting solutions and the fact that rather than build advanced capabilities from the ground up, vendors have instead elected to grow their product's functionality by acquisition (with constituent components often not being particularly well integrated) this relatively simple operator task often gets to be very messy.

 

Enter a next-generation solution like SevOne that eliminates virtually all of the above issues in one fell swoop. Sound too good to be true? How does it do this? Well firstly it’s based on a self-managing network appliance so you can instantly dispense with server, operating system and database licenses and virtually all ongoing admin costs. Furthermore the appliances cooperate with one another in a distributed peer-peer architecture (with each appliance capable of operating as both a poller and server) so the 'reporting server' bottleneck present in the traditional report server/distributed poller architecture is effectively removed. SevOne also allows you to easily switch off any monitoring licenses that you don’t need thereby maximising your investment. Unlike traditional solutions, SevOne also has inbuilt support for NetFlow, NBAR and IP Telephony monitoring available at no additional cost and without the requirement to deploy additional modules, hardware or agents.


 Perhaps SevOne's most critical attribute however is that in like for like comparison with traditional reporting vendors, its extremely cost effective. In a recent consultancy exercise undertaken for one of our managed service provider customers we observed the purchase and first year's maintenance cost of a SevOne solution to be around half the cost of the customer's incumbent reporting vendor - and this was when taking into account incremental license and maintenance costs for the incumbent solution but not the initial purchase cost of the software. So a next generation solution that's functionally superior to your exisitng solution - for less than the cost of renewing the maintenance of your current (argueably inferior) solution. Pretty compelling isn’t it?

 

 To cap it all we've also found using SevOne to be highy intuitive and easy to drive for non-expert users, so happily you no longer need a PhD. to customise or interpret a performance report! In our considered opinion, SevOne represents a very disruptive technological innovation for this particular sector and something that is going to cause many of the traditional vendors sleepless nights as they begin surrendering market share to agile new competitors like SevOne. Now that they can no longer rely on 'milking' their installed customer base for high maintenance revenues, it will be interesting to see how they cope. Having failed to innovate and keep pace with the market, we predict that some of these vendors are going to struggle in the years to come. We'll let you know more in the coming weeks - particularly in respect of Holonomix's plans to integrate SevOne into our own core automation and integration software platform. In the meantime to find out more about SevOne take a look here or alternatively the SevOne website is also a useful resource."